How to Start Running

student woman running at Cardiff University

You may have a tatty old pair of running shoes, or you may have the latest Nike running shoes, but are you using them for running or jogging? What tips are there on how to start running to get fit and improve?

You may be thinking “Wouldn’t it be good if I could run a reasonable distance without being completely out of breath.” Well, thinking about it is the first stage. To actually get outdoors and go running needs a bit more effort.

Walking or running is a great benefit for your health. It helps your heart, lungs, muscles, and also ensures that your bones grow strong and healthy. The impact on your bones whilst running when you are a teenager has a lifelong benefit (so long as you don’t over do it). Just going for a walk for half an hour each day will keep your body ticking over to some extent.

Enough of the boring stuff, how should you get outdoors and improve your running skills? Before you go out and buy the best running shoes, you should begin by building up a bit of fitness first.

Teenager running
Courtesy of the British Orienteering Association

Running Outdoors

For those of you who go running on a treadmill in a gym, running outdoors is quite different. For one thing, it is much more stimulating in that the scenery changes. You also get outdoors into the fresh air. If you are fortunate enough to live in the countryside, you should appreciate the nature around you. Many people find that running outdoors is tougher than running on a running machine. Just stick with it and take it slowly. You will find that over time your stamina and pace will improve. Your body will get used to running up and down hills. Another advantage of running outdoors is that you can run away from the crowds. You don’t have to worry about how others think you look at the gym. If you are out running, you will soon pass by anyone who you think may be looking at you. At least you are doing something about caring for yourself.

Planning Your Running Route

To start running, you will probably want to work out a route. This should be fairly short to begin with, but have plenty of scope for getting longer. Your running route may start from your home or work. You may prefer to start your route from your local leisure centre where you can use the changing rooms and showers.

You can work out your route either on a map by distance, or by walking the route you want to take and see how long it takes you. I would start off with a route that will take you about 20 minutes. A very useful online running tool is the Online Pedometer. This allows you to draw a route on a map and it tells you the distance. You can work out different routes until you find one that is of a suitable distance.

Start Slowly

For those who are enthusiastic about getting your running shoes on and going running outdoors, start off slowly and build up. Too many people start running at a good pace and soon find their bodies rebelling against the sudden exercise. Cool Running have a running guide to going from doing nothing to running 5k in a gentle manner. It starts off with walking your route, and building up through jogging to running in about two months.

Keep Track of Your Running Progress

student woman running at Cardiff UniversityBe patient and don’t rush. You will soon find a nice gentle pace. Once you have begun, you will need to monitor your progress to see how you are improving. Work out the distance your route is, and time how long it takes you to complete your route each time. Keep a record of your running times. You can then start aiming to beat your times bit by bit. I find that it helps if you know how long it takes you to get to certain points on your running route. You can then increase your pace evenly over the whole route instead of getting in a panic to make up time towards the end because you have been going slowly at the start.

After your initial 20 minute running session, you can build up to three running sessions a week. Space these out evenly so that your body has time to recover. From there, you can work on improving your running times.

There are now lots of running apps for your phone such as Map My Run or the Under Armour app called Record has a fantastic app providing a 24/7 connected health and fitness system.

Avoiding Getting Stitches

One of the memorable things about school cross country events was getting a really painful stitch. These are usually caused by eating too close to going running, or by gulping down too much water at once. Try to leave about an hour between eating and going for a run.

Breathe Through Your Nose

Our bodies are designed for us to breathe through our noses. The nose keeps out all of the nasty stuff that floats around in the air such as germs, pollen and pollution. By breathing in and out through your nose when you go running will not only stop that nasty stuff getting in, but the effort of doing so will improve your lung strength. Some people buy a device to stick in their mouths whilst running that restricts the amount of air they can breathe in so that their lungs get stronger. Breathe through your nose and you will soon feel the benefits.

You may find that your nose runs more than you do! This is good for clearing out any lingering colds that you may have. Take water to drink when running to keep your fluids topped up, as your nose will need this to keep the lining of your nose moist.

If you suffer from hayfever, try going running in the morning or just after it has rained. There is much less pollen around

Further Information on Running

Running Magazines

Running tips

Choosing a Running Shoe

To dramatically improve your fitness and help with weight loss, try combining running with cycling. This exercises your muscles in different ways and will improve your all round fitness.

If you find that going running is having a positive effect on you, then you may decide you want to buy yourself some running shoes or trail running shoes. Don’t rush out and buy any old pair of running shoes or ones that look nice. Do some research and find a pair of running shoes that look cool and are also comfortable. There are different types of running shoes for different types of terrain, so read about How to choose the best trail running shoes

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